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24 August 2018, 06:38 | Melissa Porter
Experts conclude there's no 'safe' level of alcohol consumption after global study
'Presumably people who choose to drink alcohol moderately get some pleasure from it, and any risk needs to be traded off against this enjoyment, ' he said.
Globally, 25 per cent of women and 39 per cent of men drink alcohol; in 2016 women had an average of 0.73 alcoholic drinks per day and men 1.7.
The new study concluded that any beneficial effects against ischemic heart disease were outweighed by the adverse effects of alcohol on other areas of health, particularly cancers.
Compared to abstinence, imbibing one "standard drink" - 10 grams of alcohol, equivalent to a small beer, glass of wine or shot of spirits - per day, for example, ups the odds of developing at least one of two dozen health problems by about half-a-percent, the researchers reported. Drinking alcohol was found to be the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disease in 2016, accounting for 2.2% of deaths in women and 6.8% of deaths in men overall, largely from alcohol-related cancers.
The authors of Global Burden of Diseases study, based at the University of Washington, have come up with an uncompromising message that even an occasional drink is harmful to health.
The scientists pooled together data from 592 studies with a total of 28 million participants to assess the global health risks associated with alcohol.
The heaviest drinkers: Countries were the most alcohol is consumed per person.
Men in Romania who partake knocked back a top-scoring eight drinks a day on average, with Portugal, Luxembourg, Lithuania and Ukraine just behind at seven "units" per day.
Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, professor and surgeon at Tata Memorial Hospital, which is among the contributors to The Lancet report, said that the consumption of alcohol was steadily increasing in India. The authors also used updated and more robust statistical review models to analyze alcohol consumption and the health problems associated with it.
In 2010, Belarus was the country where alcohol was consumed the most, with an average of 17.5 litres drunk per capita, according to the World Health Organization.
Above the two-drink level, the risks start to rise rapidly.
David Spiegelhalter, professor for the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge, said: "Claiming there is no 'safe" level does not seem an argument for abstention.
The study found that for people aged 15-49, alcohol was the most important risk factor, account for 3.8% of women's deaths and 12.2% of men's.
For people aged 50 and older, cancers were a leading cause of alcohol related death, constituting 27.1 per cent of deaths in women and 18.9 per cent deaths in men.
Those deaths include alcohol-related cancer and cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, intentional injury such as violence and self-harm, and traffic accidents and other unintentional injuries such as drowning and fires.
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